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New game on ISPO certification raises awareness of certification challenges

2020 began with our team in Indonesia starting development of a new game on ISPO certification (Indonesian Sustainable Palm Oil), to help players better understand the challenges smallholders face in complying with criteria and indicators. After months of testing and refining, this game is finally being played on 28 August 2019 in the Office of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Republic of Indonesia. Officials dealing with oil palm from the Central Government and from East, Central and West Kalimantan – the country’s top palm oil producing provinces – have participated in the game and dialogue sessions.

In the game, the officials played the role of smallholders or of the government. Very soon, the smallholders started complaining to the government about the ISPO certification. They lack understanding of why they should comply with it, and what benefit they would obtain. They did not know whether, and how, certification would affect prices. Other issues emerged. What about plantations that are already located in the forest area and grown from non-certified seeds? These lands and plantations are considered illegal and are not valid for ISPO certification. Can a policy from the government help resolve this problem?

This session just proved once more how powerful our approach is. It empowers participants, it frees speech. It helps them grasp the big picture and handle the complexity of the system they manage. It helps them understand better the different perspectives of the parties involved. They find out by themselves why the implementation of ISPO is so challenging and what are the bottlenecks.

Participant Ms Ita Munardini, the head of plantation processing and marketing, said in her closing remark that “this game is positive, reflects a portrait of ISPO with its components, offers us to reveal problems, a useful tool to further refine plantation development policies”. She really looked forward to seeing this game adopted in other oil palm producing provinces, particularly with the incoming presidential instruction on sustainable palm oil action plans.

Photos: Arya Hadi Dharmawan

The OPAL Project is funded by:
Project Consortium:

Oil Palm Adaptive Landscapes (OPAL)
c/o Prof. Jaboury Ghazoul
Chair of Ecosystem Management
Department of Environmental System Sciences
ETH Zurich
Universitätstrasse 16
8092 Zürich

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